Leading the zero-waste movement in Greater Kuala Lumpur

29 June 2022

Leading the zero-waste movement in Greater Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia is among the countries that have pledged their commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050. The nation’s decarbonisation imperative is strong — but what about going zero waste?

It turns out that Malaysia has an equally robust desire to eliminate waste.

It’s tempting to chalk the effort up to the recent launch of the 12th Malaysia Plan (which emphasises circular economy adoption as one of the country’s best focuses on sustainability advancement). But apparently, the zero-waste movement is not a new thing here.

Some companies have already been leading the eco-friendlier way forward for others to follow suit by tackling various forms of waste. Check out our list below to know who they are and what they are doing to fight against waste.

01. Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL)

DBKL officially pledged its commitment to the zero-waste movement in Malaysia when it created and developed the Climate Action Plan 2050. The organisation started promoting ongoing efforts for a zero-waste, low-carbon city by 2050.

Proving that waste and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions go hand-in-hand, DBKL found that more than 709,000 tonnes of waste were generated in Kuala Lumpur alone in 2017. The amount inevitably produced 572,481 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO₂). Because the waste was transported to neighbouring states (outside of the city’s boundary) for treatment, its emissions were categorised as Scope 3 emissions under the global Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

With the Climate Action Plan 2050 set in motion, DBKL ensures that all waste can be smartly managed and mitigated via its Solid Waste Reduction initiative. Through the initiative’s key component, Waste Masterplan, the organisation can effectively develop waste reduction, reuse and recycling strategies and infrastructure to reduce CO₂ emissions from the waste sector.

02. Perbadanan Putrajaya

Putrajaya leads by example with its green mindset, thanks to Perbadanan Putrajaya’s leadership. Citizens are actively encouraged to do their part in managing waste appropriately at both individual and group levels, thanks to city-wide initiatives.

The ‘Solid Waste Management’ section in Perbadanan Putrajaya’s third Low Carbon, Green City Initiatives Report stated that a waste-free Putrajaya starts with separating waste effectively at its source(s). Knowing this has enabled citizens to understand the difference between recyclable materials (such as plastic, paper, bulk and garden waste) and residual waste materials (such as food and kitchen waste and dirty substances). Furthermore, under stipulations of the legally enforced Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 (Act 672), they are legally obliged to participate in weekly waste collections based on these different waste types.

Perbadanan Putrajaya also effectively curbs waste and contamination levels by enforcing the city-wide use of biodegradable products. Established in September 2017, the rule effectively introduced these products into three main categories of premises:

● Shopping complexes, hypermarkets and hawker centres
● Night markets, restaurants and food trucks
● The entire federal territory

The efforts to achieve a greener Putrajaya do not end there. Perbadanan Putrajaya also ensures that citizens participate in the regular Food Waste Composting and Disposal Programme to know the differences between small-scale and big-scale sustainable food disposal processes. At the same time, they can mitigate fabric waste by donating old wearable items and purchasing secondhand ones at the city’s 3R Boutique and Food Waste Compost Centre on Sundays.


The issue of packaging waste is becoming increasing alarming around the world and in Malaysia. Producers recognize the role they play in helping to solve this issue, leading to the formation of the Malaysian Recycling Alliance, or MAREA, in January 2021.

Founded by 10 like-minded FMCG companies, MAREA is Malaysia’s first not-for-profit, industry-led Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) organization that aims to enhance the country’s recycling value chain and significantly improve the collection and recovery of post-consumer packaging through a multi-stakeholder approach. The 10 founding companies, listed in alphabetical order are: Coca-Cola Malaysia, Colgate-Palmolive Malaysia, Dutch Lady Milk Industries, Etika Group of Companies, Fraser & Neave Holdings Malaysia, Mondelēz International (Malaysia), Nestlé Malaysia, Spritzer, Tetra Pak Malaysia and Unilever Malaysia.

This year, MAREA celebrated its first anniversary alongside KASA and KPKT who collectively aim to drive a more circular economy for Malaysia. MAREA’s key objectives are to recycle a minimum 25% of its members’ packaging volumes by 2025, maximize the use of recycled and renewable materials, promote separation and collection at source, and avoid post-consumer packaging leakage into the environment – all in line with objectives under the 12th Malaysian Plan, the Malaysia Plastic Sustainability Roadmap 2021-2030 launched by KASA in Dec 2020 as well as the implementation of EPR at the national level through the establishment of the National Circular Economic Council by KPKT.

04. Zero Waste Malaysia

Living a waste-free lifestyle is easier said than done and takes a village to execute. Zero Waste Malaysia knows this, which is why its zero-waste initiatives are community-based. Established in 2016 under The Registry of Societies of Malaysia, the non-profit organisation advocates sustainable development by increasing community awareness before anything else. Their outreach programmes include fun itineraries such as zero-waste night markets and picnics throughout cities. With such a grand vision, it is not surprising that the organisation has won the 6th Worldwide Excellence Award.

Besides spearheading its regular 30 Day Nationwide Zero Waste Challenge, Zero Waste Malaysia has also pioneered Malaysia’s first-ever Trash Encyclopedia. Referred to simply as ‘Trashpedia’, the digital trash encyclopedia was launched late last April in the presence of 300 supportive participants. According to its content developer Sabrina Hoong, it was created in an effort to fill in any information gaps about pollution statistics in Malaysia as well as zero-waste lifestyle alternatives, including garbage segregation practices and waste-free activities.

For more insights on sustainability in Greater Kuala Lumpur, check out our blog, Spotlight Greater KL.

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